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Reflecting on the Success of our Students

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


One of my favorite things about summer is the opportunity it affords to take a brief step back to reflect on the progress we are making, together, in so many different areas.


This summer we have followed our students' blogs about their adventures abroad, celebrated large and meaningful research grants and read about faculty members' work in national media publications. These accomplishments, -- just a few examples of all that is happening on our campus -- highlight the indispensable role our institution plays in our state and nation.


Nelson Mandela said that "education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." With that powerful imperative in mind, I like to reflect on the compelling examples taking place across our campus of how the members of the UK family, particularly our students, are doing just that: changing the world.


Last week, we recognized several students who received a variety of prestigious scholarships, internships and fellowships acknowledging their excellence in the classroom, in research and in extracurricular activities. In the 2013-14 school year alone, UK students earned 11 more national awards than the previous year, including a prized Truman Scholarship and two Goldwater Scholarships.


The awards are meaningful in and of themselves.


But what they signify is even more important.


For example, I had the opportunity and honor earlier this year to meet Grace Trimble at a UK Board of Trustees meeting. Grace is a political science junior and UK Women's Tennis Team member who received the prestigious Truman Scholarship; these awards recognize outstanding leadership and devotion to public service. She was among the 59 scholars nationwide selected by the Truman Foundation from 655 candidates.


As a teenager, Grace began a nonprofit organization, Lexington Tennis Club Smart Shots. Throughout her time at UK studying politics, nonprofits and public service, she used her undergraduate research experience to design and implement a survey gauging the effectiveness of her organization.


Grace's passion and devotion to serving others exemplifies how seeing blue empowers individuals to make tangible differences in the world.


Grace is not alone in this pursuit; 35 students received major nationally competitive honors this school year. Two students, Matthew Fahrbach, of Louisville, Ky., and Samuel Saarinen, of Shelbyville, Ky., received Goldwater Scholarships. Three UK students received NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program awards, and 12 undergraduate students were selected to participate in the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates program. They will travel across the country to conduct research in fields ranging from political science to engineering.


In receiving these awards, these students are already using their gifts to push the boundaries of discovery and make a difference in their communities.


I'm very proud. But none of us are satisfied.


I know we all can't wait to see how these remarkable students continue to change the world and what we, as an institution, can accomplish together next year. 


All the best,



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